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Auden in Ischia

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Auden in Ischia

I'm planning a trip to Naples in April, and I'm wondering if anyone knows the exact address of the house where the poet, W.H. Auden stayed? He spent his summers on Ischia in the 1950s in the town of Forio, but aside from the name of his favorite taverna, I don't know where he lived.

I'd love to visit as a literary pilgrimage and take some photos. Thanks for any help.

Miami Beach, Florida
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1. Re: Auden in Ischia

Maybe you should post this on the Ischia Forum/Forio.

Norwich, United...
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2. Re: Auden in Ischia

No need for that.... however I can't remember ever seeing anyone here lay claim to having rented Auden his villa!

The usual place of pilgrimage is Forio's central square, and the exiles gathered at Maria's Bar (then, officially, the "Caffé Internazionale") - still about the best and where you'll see some photos of them all.

A string of places is mentioned in this - under "Soggiorno a Forio"...


... ending with, "Nel 1950 lascia questa abitazione, per trasferirsi nel quartiere di S. Giovanni, tra Casa Di Maio e S. Vito, dove trascorre lunghi periodi di vacanza."

.... In 1950 he left there, to move to the San Giovanni area, between Casa Di Maio and San Vito, where he spent long vacations.

Let me know if interested - and I'll try to map that for you, and you can perhaps just shoot everything?

Somewhere else to look perhaps: "For a more intimate account of Auden and his lover Chester Kallman at home in Ischia or later in Kirchstetten, readers should turn to his close friend Thekla Clark's funny and moving memoir."

You've probably got a better library to hand than I have on the island?

You may also like to visit 'La Mortella' - home of the Waltons, with whom he's supposed to have stayed on a short later visit.....


..... and perhaps 'La Colombia' - the rather sad remains of Visconti's summer home - although I'm not entirely sure they ever met, and don't know whether it will be open in April? For that, do telephone first - as it's rather off the beaten track, and prone to periods of closure in recent years!


But some great cinema and theatre associations - Burt Lancaster, here in 51 or 52 for the filming of "Crimson Pirate" and eventually turning up in his Conversation Piece and Il Gattopardo - Alan Delon, here for "Purple Noon" then in Rocco and his brothers, and also in Gattopardo...

'Fraid I've few ideas of the accommodation used by other famous visitors...


... but later it was the Waltons' place where many of them stayed... although that perhaps wasn't quite so conveniently "out of sight, out of mind" ?


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3. Re: Auden in Ischia

On the first page in Italian linked above, it says that the landlord who raised the rent tenfold when Auden won the Feltrinelli Prize was a Signor Monte. There are still Montes in Forio, who may still own the place he rented.

Norwich, United...
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4. Re: Auden in Ischia

It was perhaps not the rent, but the price to wrest the villa from its owner, that was at issue?

"It has often been mentioned that in 1957 W. H. Auden received an Italian literature prize for his lifetime achievement. No doubt, the fact that he and Chester Kallman had for the last few years spent their summers in a rented villa in Forio, a small village on the island of Ischia, had a bearing on the decision to award this prize to Auden. The amount involved was substantial ($32,000), and it was Auden's intention to invest this money in property. When, however, he approached his landlord with a view to purchase the house in Forio, he was in for a shock. The asking price was outrageous, and Auden and Kallman decided to purchase property elsewhere."



Very little has changed, and islanders are still reluctant to part with any property that they acquire - although 20 million lire must have been an enormous windfall in 1957, if a church organ could be bought for 15,000 !


Seems just about all traces of the church, after which it was named, may have gone now but you can perhaps spot the location of Via San Giovanni - very near Piazza San Vito (P.S.Vito) and Via Casa di Maio....


Let me know please when you've had a look - copied from the local A-Z and I'll delete it again...


Edited: 02 March 2012, 11:47
Norwich, United...
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5. Re: Auden in Ischia

Taken a while ago, but eventually found this picture I'd taken of San Vito - and their house would presumably have been somewhere over to the left...


Looks like things may changed somewhat since the late 50s?


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6. Re: Auden in Ischia

This information is tremendous. Thank you. Maria's Bar is the place where he spent a good deal of his public time, so that's definitely a stop and maybe I can find some photos of Auden in his apartment and then piece together the exact locations. It does seem that he moved around a bit.

And thanks for the information about Visconti's home, because that is number one on my wife's list of things to do.

You've help make this a great trip already and we don't leave for another 2 weeks.


Moorestown, New...
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7. Re: Auden in Ischia

Dear Auden,

I'm trying to find The Piro Home in Casamicciola and the cametary where my Grandparents are buried. My uncle, Dr. Andrea Piro is also buried there. I believe they all lived in Piazza Emanuel Vittoria.

Can you refer me to any Email site that could help me?

Thank You

Buttons 12

Norwich, United...
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8. Re: Auden in Ischia

Sorry if it comes as a disappointment, but Wystan Hugh Auden has been dead since 1973...

Perhaps though another Englishman can help, even if he did miss your earlier question?

There's a remarkable cemetery in Casamicciola, which might well be the place - although mostly people aren't buried in grave plots but Italian-style: look towards the end of these:


Quite a few living members of the Piro family, and businesses of that name, show as still being in the town today:


And - whilst I've had nothing to do with them directly - for historical records you might try these people, who say they've digitised the local births, deaths etc documents:



Can't find it now but I recollect that someone else to whom I'd suggested them had had some results!

Pretty sure they're entirely genuine, but do please satisfy yourself before parting with any money.


PS - Trivially, the address was probably "Piazza Vittorio Emanuele" - or perhaps even "Corso Vittorio Emanuele" ?

Arlington, VA
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9. Re: Auden in Ischia

Auden sent letters with return addresses indicating he lived at the following locations in Forio on Ischia.

August 17, 1949: Via Santa Lucia 22, Forio d'Ischia Prov. di Napoli


July 20th 1951: Via Santa Lucia 14 Forio d'Ischia Prov. di Napoli


However, I can't find this street on any current maps which suggests it's been renamed or developed away. Further guidance anyone?

Edited: 10 November 2012, 14:03
10. Re: Auden in Ischia

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